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Sunday, 8 May 2016

COLOURS: For mothers across the world. You colour our lives!!

1 Corinthians 13:13 'And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Colours drift across our world,
reminding us of our mothers.
They float and weave through the mind,
Skipping behind and dancing ahead,
Tingeing our days with mercy.

There's bright red ribbon on an old hat,
Blood scarlet bands of self-sacrifice,
Always embracing, never resentful.
A mother's love bleeds, to reveal
Yellow daffodils, perched on a wooden chair,
Peaceful, sunny, faithful,
witnessing potential, amidst reality.
The flowers fade as the light glimpses,

The royal purple of a lollipop, bold and brave.
Solitary bauble on a thin stick,
Mothers stand beside us and are not ashamed.

A young man walks by, 
His blue jumper swirls ever brighter.
Just like the hope that swells in the heart,
Because there is always hope,
Brilliant hope, vivid hope in the eyes of all mothers.

Muted rays of a tangerine sun,
Flicker and wink in the twilight.
Laughter, delighted smiles and freedom,
Before the safety of slumber in a mother's arms.

Colours mingle in our world,
Subtle and strong, vibrant and real.
With soft caress they nurture our soul,
The extraordinary kaleidoscope, gift of God, a MOTHER.

By Jennifer O'Neill
In honour of all mothers. 

Monday, 29 February 2016

The Reluctant Church Goer (me).

Heb 10:25 Let us ' not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another..' 

Today, I'm talking about church. Not any particular church but more how God has changed me, a fairly reluctant, even bored church goer into someone who wants to be there.

There are all the usual reasons as to why church can be more of a pain than a pleasure and I'm sure you know the list, here's a few common ones: people are unfriendly, your kids are left out of the social group, the sermon is pretty awful, you feel like you don't fit in, your disappointed by others behaviours (including the minister, or those who lead up front), your disappointed and distressed by your own behaviours as well, church is the day that your kids are the worst behaved EVER and make you want to not bother, its hard as a single because everyone seems to be married, its hard as a married with little kids because you don't get to hear the sermon, you get to sit in the creche every week and if your going to feel absolutely exhausted its got to be Sunday (well that's what happens to me).

(Of course, if its not working for your kids, absolutely find a church that does. If the truth is not being preached, find a church that preaches the truth. If your sick or exhausted or burnt out, then absolutely you will have to miss church until you are better. God knows and understands our circumstances, He is gracious and kind, NOT legalistic.)

Really good things happen in church as well but when you are having a downer about church its so easy to focus on the negatives. Churches are not perfect, how can they be when they are filled with imperfect people like me and you.

Anyway my attitude change, all started when doing a unit at SMBC on church . A slow feeling of guilt crept over me. We studied the passages that said how God builds us up as Christians, together, in community, not just on our own. You know, the passages on how as believers, we are all  'one body' in Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). I could feel my individualistic self crying out 'NO' I love being individualistic and as an introvert and writer I doubly love it. I love to be alone. But God was saying you need to be together with other followers of Jesus that's a big part of spiritual growth (Ephesians 4:15-16). I secretly wondered whether God was favouring extroverts with this whole set up of church.

And then He really brought it home to me; You and I need to be in church because:

1.God says He will use me to encourage others and if I'm not there its you guys at my church who miss out. As Australians I think our culture resists that, we do put ourselves down in jokes we are always self deprecating because that's our culture. But the truths of the Bible outrank our cultures. God is saying He intends me to be a blessing for others and He will use me as I am, so I'm thinking I'd better be there with all my faults, misgivings, doubts, sins, basically my imperfectness because if God has said it, He's going to do it and I'm going to trust that He will. You can see where I'm going with this, I really need you to turn up to church, with all your imperfections and difficult situations because God is going to use you to encourage me and I  don't want to miss what God is going to do through you at church and how He will use you to bless us. Pretty much church is a community of believers, and we're waiting and wanting everyone to turn up so God can use us to be a blessing to each other, so we can grow up to be like Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13).

Even Paul when he writes to the Christians in Rome says he seeks to be an encouragement to them and also to be encouraged by them, he writes 'I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong - that is that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.' Romans 1: 11, 12.

2. I need to worship God. God has done so much for me and my family, he has never left me or forsaken me, I need to be in church, worshipping Him. I know all our lives, all we do and say should be about worshipping Him but God gives us this special community in which he desires us to worship Him together. After all isn't that what heaven is about extolling the virtues of God with all His peoples, with all the heavenly hosts, throughout eternity, Church is where we can get started now.

This all comes with a warning;
 God warns us to NOT 'give up' or the Greek means to 'abandon'  seeing each other (Hebrews 10:25) because we can't then encourage each other and we may fall away. No-one is immune from that.

So if you are finding church hard, remember, the people of God need you and me to be a mutual encouragement to each other and to heap praise on our most deserving and beautiful God until this life ends or He comes again.

"You are a chosen people...that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9


                                                              THE END

Saturday, 30 January 2016

When Life gives you "Rock Cakes" and NOT "Pavlovas".

Aussie Pavlova

As I enter 2016 and lay aside 2015, I do so with some trepidation. 2015 was a hard year, with chronic illness and family issues pushing it way into the struggle zone. I'm sure you too, can relate to a year or years that as an Aussie I would describe them as serving up rock cakes instead of pavlovas (see definitions below).

At the beginning of every year, I ask God for a verse or thought that is His message to me for that time. I do this because I know I need His encouragement in my life, more than anything. In 2015 God was definitely saying,"You need to persevere, Jenny" and He was right and He has graciously brought me to the end of 2015.

For 2016, I feel God has said, "This year you need to work on Trusting and Obeying." It reminds me of the old Sunday school song "Trust and Obey for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey," by John H. Sammis.

It's NOT a blind trust and obedience, that I have but a trust in the One who showed His love through going to the cross. I can't get past that love of Jesus, I know who I am trusting in and seeking to obey, I know the depths of His character and I've known His faithfulness, despite my ongoing difficulties, I'm sure you can say that too.
" This is love: not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." 1 John 4:10

I trust He has a plan for my life and yours because He promises that He does, even though sometimes it feels like it makes no sense. He promises He has good things for me and you to do. This gives me and you hope.
"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

And I want to obey Him and not turn away in the difficulties, which I find can be the underlying temptation when hardships are upon me. Besides, He promises to bring good out of the troubles, when we follow Him, we can trust Him that He will.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.." Romans 8:28

I don't know how your 2015 has been but may I encourage you in 2016 to together with me, to "Trust and Obey" God, for as the song continues "In fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, Or we'll walk by His side in the way; What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear only trust and obey." the song is describing here and now because Jesus is here for us now, He walks with us now to encourage and help us. He has promised, that He will never leave us or forsake us. Hebrews 13:5

So maybe it will be a year full of rock cakes or there may be a few pavlova's thrown in, whichever it is, may you and I, as followers of Jesus, be found to be trusting and obeying Him, because He is worth it.

p.s. rock cakes, are very unpalatable palm sized cakes, with raisins, which usually end up really hard in consistency, hence the name, I assume. Whereas pavlova as shown in the picture is a delightful combination of meringue and cream and rasberries (traditionally strawberries). No doubt there will be some who like rock cakes, so my apologies if that's the case, maybe I have just never had a tasty one, yet.